Friday, August 19, 2011

one week

It is one week since my mother died.  Last Friday morning I drove across town to be with her for the last time.  The Darling Gardens were shrouded in fog and a shimmery,  unreal  kind of morning light .  By lunchtime the day was transformed by glorious late winter sunshine,  streaming through the windows.  But  all this played out in the background,  as I sat by my mother’s bed, holding her hand,  talking to her gently although she probably couldn’t hear me.  I kept holding her hand as various doctors and nurses came and went  and the life of the hospice continued around us – the plumber banging away at the pipes in the bathroom, another patient being moved into the bed opposite my mother  and all the associated business.  Finally my mother was moved to a quite space, a lovely room to herself away from the clatter, and there she spent her last minutes.  I think she waited because she knew I wanted to be alone and somewhere quiet where we could be together for the last time.  I watched my mother draw her last breaths, I held her hand, I told her it was OK to let go, that I would be alright , that everything would be alright.   And then it was over.  Perhaps the hardest part was leaving her.  My beautiful mother, lying still, no breath, and the warmth of her body gradually fading.  I stayed with her for two hours and stroked her cheek and kissed her gently on her forehead and smelt her hair and touched her hand  - all for the last time - and then I had to say goodbye.

In loving memory of my mother.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Winter was hard

This is the title of one of my favourite Kronos Quartet CDs featuring a beautiful piece by Aulis Sallinen. The title is particularly apt - I am having a hard winter. My mother has been diagnosed with lung cancer and at 84 years of age there is little point trying to treat the disease. As I write this I am sitting in a hospice, the sun is shining, the spring flowers are just about ready to pop up. My mother is drifting in a cloud of morphine and I am trying to keep my head above water in a sea of sadness. I met an old friend on the train yesterday and I filled him in on what was happening in my life. He asked me if I felt like writing music, as some way of dealing with all of this. Not yet, I said. I feel a need to listen to music but only very particular things. Today it is Morton Feldman's Rothko Chapel. Nothing too jagged or unsettled. At least I can listen to music. My mother's partial deafness and foggy head make listening to music pointless. She cannot focus or concentrate to read. Even getting out of bed to sit in the almost-spring sunshine is beyond her today. And winter continues to be hard.